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Dearborn Police adds social worker to its ranks

Stacy Wetters responds to a mental health call with Dearborn Police.
City of Dearborn
Stacy Wetters responds to a mental health call with Dearborn Police.

The Dearborn Police Department has added a social worker and behavioral health expert to its ranks.

Stacy Wetters has already started working full-time with Dearborn Police. The department recently brought her on board in response to an increasing number of calls related to mental health and substance abuse-related crises over the past several years.

“In recent years, with the backdrop of a global pandemic, the Dearborn Police Department has seen an escalation in mental health calls — a 62% increase from 2020 to 2022 — and welfare check calls, which increased from 910 in 2020, to 1139 in 2021, and 1135 in 2022,” the city said in a news release.

The department says this model offers several advantages. Wetters is there to help diffuse potentially tense situations, and make sure both officers and community members stay safe. She can also make referrals for services, and prevent people with behavioral health needs from entering the criminal justice system.

Wetters said there are other advantages too.

“In mental health or substance use emergencies, I can help de-escalate and offer clinical expertise and interventions that an officer may not be trained in,” she said. “I am also trained as a clinical therapist, so I can talk with people who sometimes are more open to interacting with someone not in uniform.”

The program is funded through a grant from the Dearborn-based social services agency ACCESS.

The move is part of a small but growing trend to address mental health issues that spiral into police interactions with trained mental health practitioners—though relatively few departments have integrated non-officers into their ranks specifically for that purpose in Michigan.

In December, the Detroit Police Department announced that it wasadding more crisis-trained officers to respond to a sharp rise in mental health calls.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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